Government ready to facilitate refugee returns (AUDIO)

The government says it is ready to facilitate the return of more Tamil refugees from India who will then be resettled in their village of original residence in the north and east.

Minister of Resettlement Gunaratne Weerakoon told the Colombo Gazette that so far the refuges have been returning from India in small numbers with the assistance of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

He said the Ministry of Resettlement and the Defence Ministry will assist refugees who want to return from India and settle back in their own homes.

According to Indian Government figures, there are more than 100,000 Sri Lankans in the southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu, including 68,000 in 112 government-run camps and 32,000 outside the camps, news agencies had reported recently.

The IRIN news agency reported recently that in 2011, 1,728 Sri Lankan refugees returned with the UNHCR’s help after the agency stepped up its assistance package to returnees. By the end of July 2012 a further 758 had returned.

“UNHCR in India helps Sri Lankan refugees who want to return home to do so. We pay for their air fare back to Colombo and help them get their exit permits from the Indian government and their travel documents from the Sri Lankan deputy High Commission in Chennai,” Nayana Bose, associate external relations officer for UNHCR in New Delhi was quoted by IRIN as saying. (Colombo Gazette)

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